Richard Hodgson has been appointed CEO of Yo! Sushi after resigning from the same role at PizzaExpress in May this year.
Hodgson (pictured), who was chief executive at PizzaExpress for four years, will replace Robin Rowland, who has been with the company since 1999. Rowland will remain with the company as a non-executive director.
The news follows last week’s acquisition by Yo! Sushi of Bento Sushi, North America’s second largest sushi brand, in a £59m deal.
Over the past 18 months Yo! Sushi has achieved like-for-like sales growth of 5%. Eight new sites have opened in the UK this year, alongside the launch of Yo’s first restaurants in Manhattan, Paris and Sydney.
Rowland said: “I’m pleased to pass the baton to Richard. Richard inherits a business that continues to go from strength to strength and is now poised for rapid expansion across the group’s range of formats and geographies. I look forward to supporting the group’s growth in a non-executive capacity.”
Hodgson added: “Yo! Sushi has been an iconic consumer brand for the last 20 years, and the introduction of the Bento brand and offering presents a huge opportunity. I’m excited about joining the newly diversified group at this pivotal point in its development, and working with the team as we capitalise on the new multi-channel multi-brand format.”
In 2003, Rowland led a £10m management buyout of the company – backed by Primary Capital – when the group had 12 sites and sales of £12.5m.
Under his leadership, Yo! Sushi expanded from three restaurants to almost 100, spanning across the globe. This saw a second management buyout valued at over £50m by Quilvest and the Yo! Sushi senior management team, including Rowland.
In 2015, current investors Mayfair Equity Partners signed an £85m deal to acquire controlling interest in Yo! Sushi, resulting in another management buyout. It’s said that Mayfair is happy with the decision to bring Hodgson on board.
Hodgson, who has held senior roles at Asda and Waitrose, was replaced at PizzaExpress by Jinlong Wang – a former senior Starbucks executive and PizzaExpress chairman.
Bento is the largest sushi brand in Canada, trading from more than 600 locations, and supplies sushi to a further 1,700 partner sites.
Yo! Sushi said the combined business would make it one of the largest sushi companies outside Japan, providing an international, multi-brand, multi-channel offering.
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